Thursday, April 14, 2011

Critics of Sarah Abrahamson #11

And now from within the "autism community":

From the blog Autism and Oughtisms

'The attempt that some people make to characterise all genius as containing some level of autism have made the error of thinking that intense focus is an exclusively autistic trait.'

'These errors in reasoning about the link between autism and genius, in part come about because of thinking about autism in terms of “autistic traits”, rather than as a clearly defined condition that some people have, and other people do not have. Tests like the Autism Quotient Test lend people to think of autism as something totally normal people carry around to some extent – so blurring the boundaries of the condition that saying someone is diagnosed as being autistic gets treated as just an extreme type of personality rather than a seriously disabling condition."

It is not harmless musings when people are posthumously diagnosed as autistic due to their genius. It has the effect I’ve referred to above of blurring the boundaries of a very serious condition, but it also can seriously offend the surviving family members who aren’t exactly keen on their relative being used for other people’s agendas. These posthumous diagnoses classically rely on choosing the traits that fit an autistic person, and totally ignoring those that don’t, and are usually gleaned from biographies, which again are written second-hand and with a particular lean in mind: Biographers are more likely to include and group together outrageous behaviours of their subjects, than use and refer to the mundane things we all do and achieve everyday – the things that mark us out as less likely to be autistic. This can equally be true of autobiographies.'

'And a more recent example of posthumous diagnosis being controversial, disputed and harmful, here re Janet Frame.'

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